Friday, October 11, 2013

Joint Event For Iowa City Challengers


"They're not a slate, but I'm slating them," Karen Kubby told a crowd of about 50 at her home Thursday. She's more than a decade removed from her 11 years on the city council, but the Kubby nod is still THE endorsement to get on Iowa City's progressive left.

Kubby hosted an event for three city council candidates: at large contenders Kingsley Botchway and Rockne Cole and District B candidate Royceann Porter. They're challenging two incumbents, Terry Dickens and Susan Mims, and pseudo-incumbent Catherine Champion, trying to replace her mother Connie Champion.

"We need broader leadership," said Kubby. "If we can elect these three we'll have a much different community in five to six years."

The crowd was an interesting mix of old-school progressives and young African Americans. Racial issues, particularly disparate arrest rates, have been a hot topic in the past year, playing a role in the two defeats of the justice center.

"We must embrace and talk about race," said Porter. "The Iowa City council needs African American representation. They need me and Kingsley."

"We have a lot of new people coming here," said Porter, a 25 year resident. "This is our home and we aren't going anywhere."

Porter is emphasizing affordable housing and living wages in her District B campaign, in which all city voters can vote. It's a sharp contrast with her opponent, Dickens, whose signature issue has been cracking down on the homeless on the Ped Mall where he owns a jewelry store.

"We speak about downtown, downtown, downtown," said Botchway. "We have a very business interested city council. We have a small subset deciding where millions of dollars will go. We need to involve more people. We need an economic development plan that applies to the entire area."

Botchway and Cole are running against Mims and Champion. Voters can choose two of the four. In part, the event was designed to encourage people to vote for both Cole and Botchway, rather than "bullet voting" for just one.

"They're wonderful people," Cole said of Mims, Dickens and Champion, "but they have some enormous blind spots. We've had so much negativity, from a lack of being able to listen."

Cole seeks to build a city around strengths like walkability/bikeability and cultural amenities. "If we try to compete with more cars, more malls, and more parking lots, we lose to Coralville."

Other politicians spotted included District C council member Jim Throgmorton, not on the ballot this year (wouldn't he make a cool mayor?) and Rep. Mary Mascher.

Voting has already started, unusually early. For the first time since 1991 Iowa City did not require a primary, which would have been this past Tuesday. One more candidate would have forced the primary and thus delayed voting for the November 5 election until the field was selected.

The election kicks into high gear next week when satellite voting starts on campus. Sites will be Monday and Tuesday at Burge Hall, and Wednesday and Thursday at Hillcrest. Heavy turnout is expected on the 21 bar issue, a subject not discussed by candidates last night.

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